Short term v. Long term

fork girl

Parents sometimes say to me, “I know you’re not meant to pester or bribe them to eat something, but it works for me!”

Yes, it CAN work. You may get that last mouthful of peas inside them or get them to finish all their dinner or try a bit of the soup you made – but how long will the effect last? Only until the next meal when you’ll have to do it all over again. The damage, on the other hand, will last a whole lot longer!

Research shows that when children are made to eat something, they perceive themselves as the ‘loser’ and you as the ‘winner’. So when they grow up and have the freedom to choose whether to eat something or not, most of them will choose to ‘win’ by not eating it.

It really is a case of short-term gain, long-term pain.

It is so much better to back off entirely: Keep presenting them with a wide variety of foods and leave it up to them what and how much they eat. Say nothing! How long does this approach take to work? With a classic, ‘average’ case of fussy eating, if you commit to it 100%, it typically takes three to four months to stop fussy eating being a problem that interferes with mealtimes and family life.

What’s three to four months in the whole scheme of things? A mere drop in the ocean!

It’s medium-term pain – but for a whole childhood and life-time of gain!